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Showing posts from November, 2010

Easter Seals Survey: Adults with Developmental Disabilities

A representative from WestGlenn Communications (http://www.westglen.com/), a PR firm that works with non-profit organizations, asked me to review an Easter Seals survey related to adults with developmental disabilities and to consider referring readers of this blog to a video discussion.

Understand that this survey was funded by MassMutual Financial Group, which has a vested interest in marketing financial planning to parents of children with disabilities. I am not going to recommend any particular company, but I do agree that those families with the ability must consider how a child with a disability will adapt to adulthood.

The sad truth is that many of us with developmental disabilities are underemployed or unemployed. Surveys of adults with official diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders indicate only 17 percent have full-time employment. That leaves most dependent on public supports, friends, and family. I know that cannot be easy for parents to consider. Also, I know my persona…

Social Stories and Role-Playing

One of the standard educational strategies for children diagnosed with ASDs and similar learning challenges is social stories. There is a substantial literature on social stories, most supporting their use and finding some effectiveness. It should concern us that many of the published studies are anecdotal, at best.
Skimming the study abstracts, I am stunned by the number of studies relying on a single child. A "large" study of the effectiveness of social stories included only five students. And then, the recorded improvements are observational and anecdotal. We have no idea if the stories really worked or not. I find little evidence the simple passage of time or the repetition of rules didn't contribute to any observed social skills.

From Focus Autism Other Developmental Disabilities, Fall 1998 vol. 13 no. 3 176-182:
The student was a 12-year-old boy diagnosed with autism, Fragile X syndrome, and intermittent explosive disorder.From the Journal of Applied Behavioral Anal…

The Rare Book Review... Not a Recommendation

I don't view myself as part of the market for most autism books found on bookstore shelves, most of which are for parents. These books tend to cover familiar material, too often including data and information I consider faulty or even misleading. However, when I was asked by a representative of Skyhorse Publishing if I might review a book for parents with a section on education, I consented.
1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Boys: Everything You Need to Know about Diagnosis, Doctors, Schools, Taxes, Vacations, Babysitters, Treatment, Food, and More
by Ken Siri
ISBN: 978-1-61608-105-8I cannot endorse this text for a number of reasons, some merely stylistic but some that are, at least for me, far more important.

Stylistic IssuesThe "1,001 Tips" are not actually individual tips. Most of the "tips" are composed of a few sentences from other sources. Too many of these sources are websites, not academic journals or scholarly texts. Some of the sourcing is unclear, a…

U.K. National Health Service Changes Vaccine Schedule

Right on the heels of my complaints about the anti-vax conspiracy radicals, who are so focused they often overlook issues of concern to all families and individuals with autism and related disorders, comes this twist. Certain to anger the anti-vax movement in the U.K., the National Health Service is considering changing the vaccine schedule. There are also discussions of what can or should be mandated.
One-off 'six inoculation' jabs to be introduced to one-year-oldsLast updated at 5:05 PM on 21st November 2010

Read MoreThe decision to immunise all the diseases at once, including MMR will create concern with some parents about the risk of side effects with the added possibility that families will not allow their babies to be inoculated in this way.The joint committee on vaccination and immunisation who advised the government to combine the jabs said research found no safety issues with families 'expected to increase take-up' of inoculations.It does make me wonder what the…

The Anti-Vax Hijackers

On many Web forums dedicated autism, no matter the topic there is an increasing likelihood that a discussion will be hijacked by the anti-vaccine, "curebie," anti-establishment, conspiracy theorists. They are led by "journalists" and celebrities given prominence by the Huffington Post, DailyKos, Age of Autism, and other websites. They admire discredited men and women, individuals reprimanded in legal proceedings, sanctioned by medical review boards, and disavowed by universities. Yes, to many of us with science and quantitative backgrounds, the science is firmly established — as firmly as one can expect within medical science. And what annoys us is that self-proclaimed watchdogs and anti-vaccine hooligans, and they are hooligans, point to "journal articles" and demand other articles in response. Of course, the "journals" publishing the Geiers and most others are vanity journals, foreign publications, or minor journals of no standing — but that d…

The Nonsense on Blogs

I won't delve too deeply in this, but I am familiar with the stupidity of people trying to prove I am someone else or the paid shill of this group or that. The basic story is that a blogger at "Age of Autism" (a website I do despise intensely), is trying to "prove" that Sullivan over at "Left Brain / Right Brain" is actually not the father of an autistic child, but is instead… well, I'm not even going to give it more credibility than that. It's stupidity and evidence of how conspiracy minded the extremists are.

Sadly, these extremists seem to come from one side of the debate. They've sent people like me hateful e-mails, even threats. These are not people interested in learning or discussing -- they are like religious zealots. It is ironic that these zealots are often aligned with "progressive" politics. They find standing on Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and other forums.

Let's get this straight, the political community general…

Writing about Autism

For the last two or the three years, I have considered writing a book about autism and education. I outlined the book, sent proposals to two publishers, and wrote 30 or 40 thousand words before abandoning the idea. It lost its appeal to me for a variety of reasons, including the fact I didn't really want to reconsider my most recent educational experiences.

Yet, there are those asking when I'm going to sit down and write about autism. I'm often asked about this when I speak to groups of parents or caregivers. Clearly there is a demand I don't understand. If I did understand it, I'd know exactly what to write.

Until this week, I had not read a complete "self-help" or "advice" book on autism or any other special education issues. I just don't see what such books would offer me and I don't believe my own experiences reflect the current realities of education. Schools have improved a great deal since I was in elementary school, way back in…

Twenty Years Ago...

The cliché is that I am supposed to "learn" from the last 20 years. At least I have a great wife and cool cats… but it has been a long 20 years since leaving USC. I believe 1988-89 was the last "good" year. (Like many people, I still view a "year" in academic terms.)

I need to get back to the path I was on then: writing and more writing. I stopped giving my all to the journalism and English programs my last year at USC. I quit the Daily Trojan, ended my journalism internships, and shifted to the school of education for several complex reasons (including hubris). The basic thought was that teaching would be a secure "second choice" since I decided against journalism as my career path. I still love journalism, but I know I'm opinionated and passionate about the topics I might enjoy covering. Of course, a columnist or analyst can be opinionated, so there's hope.

I have been unable to focus since leaving L.A. in Dec 1990. I did finish the En…

Vaccination Rates Drop in Wealthier Kids: The Autism Rumors Take a Toll

Vaccination Rates Drop in Wealthier Kids: The Autism Rumors Take a TollIf there's one great truth of political debate, it's this: when noise trumps knowledge, someone's going to get hurt. That's been proven anew with Wednesday's report that vaccination rates for children with health insurance have been falling — due mostly to fears about the widely disproven link between vaccines and autism. If there was a glimmer of good — and surprising — news in the report it's that vaccination rates for kids on Medicaid are on the rise.I've read the more education one has, the more likely to embrace alternative medicine, too. I'd like to see this broken down by which academic majors these “educated” people studied. Yes, I do believe we'd find a difference between science majors and the humanities graduates. But, that's only my theory.I am a humanities graduate (English, journalism), but I found some very vocal academics upset that anyone questions c…